My moment of truth is fast approaching. Will I succeed or fail to predict the future?
I have been repeating my forecast that FAA will announce a draft of their newest regulation, called an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) at EAA’s big summer celebration of flight. I’m not betting the farm, though. I think it’s a fairly safe prediction.
To win an increase in their budget a few years back, FAA agreed to complete a new regulation by December 31, 2023. That new reg is widely known as Mosaic; its full name is Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification. Because FAA has said the agency needs 16 months to read every comment and adjust the final regulation language accordingly, seeing the future is simple math. Go back in time 16 months from the end-of-year deadline in 2023 and you end up at… yep! — AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. We will see if they meet their goal.
Among LSA enthusiasts and those following Mosaic and hoping for an enlargement of the LSA aircraft description, it may come as a surprise to learn that Mosaic is as much about multicopters/UAVs/eVTOLs (call them as you will) as LSA. In fact, it is multicopters that are driving the deadline. Congress ordered this new sector be integrated into the national airspace. LSA, warbirds, homebuilts, and other Special Airworthiness Certificate holders are all included in this sweeping rule. (For clarification, aircraft built by Cessna and Cirrus are issued Standard Airworthiness Certificates.)
Mosaic may be consuming a lot of the oxygen around airports these days, but light aviation news keeps on coming. Let’s review what we saw at Sun ‘n Fun that will be completed or refined by Oshkosh 2022.
New Aeroprakt Importer
For several years Dennis Long has been the American face of Aeroprakt. He took over the importing and has enjoyed quite a good run. According to a quick search on Tableau Public — our source for all light aircraft N-number registrations — Aeroprakt has around 70 aircraft flying in the USA. Dennis Long sold most of them.
As most readers may be aware, Aeroprakt is based in the Ukraine, specifically in Kyiv. If you weren’t sure where that was in 2021, you surely know now. While the company continues to produce, said Dennis, it is operating under significant duress from the war actions. Part supplies and shipment of finished aircraft is massively disrupted by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
In this very challenging environment, Dennis is changing gears. While he will continue to help, he is turning over import duties for Aeroprakt to Andy Humphrey, a CFI, an A&P with Inspection Authorization, and a veteran of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector.
Andy’s Heavenbound Aviation is based in Johnstown, Ohio where he also represents Aerolite 103 and Quicksilver. Given his experience in the affordable end of aviation, it appears Aeroprakt is in good hands for the future. When Mr. Putin removes his troops from Ukraine, look for the low-cost aircraft producer to accelerate.
Evektor Goes Mainstream
Evektor is back with great news for students looking for a place to get Sport Pilot (and further) training in Light-Sport Aircraft.
At Sun ‘n Fun 2022, I interviewed an impressive young aviator and businessman, John Mauch, Jet Access’ Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Operations.
Jet Access is the 10th largest charter flight operator in the world based on flight hours and the midwestern company has extensive operations to support such aircraft. However, they also run several flight training operations. They manage their schools so well that several collegiate aviation programs have hired the company to manage their operations.
Based in Indianapolis, Jet Access has multiple flight school operations now and plans several more. All of them will feature the Evektor LSA line, primarily focused on the Harmony model (video pilot report).
Mauch said Jet Access chose Evektor because they have found them durable for steady flight training operations, easy-to-fly and maintain, plus they have a low fuel burn. Given today’s sky-high fuel prices, this advantage has become much more important.
Jet Access schools make broad use of the Evektor models. “These are technically advanced aircraft with glass cockpits and autopilots,” observed John adding, “This prepares our students for modern piloting that improves safety, while still focusing on stick and rudder skills due to cooperative flight characteristics of the Evektors. They’re also larger inside than legacy trainers with far better visibility and cabin airflow.”
Jet Access ordered a dozen Evektors and plans to keep adding models as their growing operation expands. This will help many pilots seeking instruction in modern Light-Sport Aircraft.
Pipistrel Generates Million$
Whatever the actual number and whatever the contract terms state, one thing seems sure. Pipistrel found Ivo Boscarol will have no trouble paying his bills. Heck, it appears he could afford his own biz jet.
At Sun ‘n Fun 2022 I was told Ivo sold his business for better than €200,000,000 (well over $200 million). Such high finance is way beyond my usual reporting but I’d bet those funds will be paid out on a schedule of performance. Deliver such-and-so technology to Textron by this date and you get $20 million. Deliver the next phase and get $30 million more… like that. I have no idea, of course, but however he gets paid, Ivo will be rolling in it.
In all my years in light aviation, I have never heard of a higher value paid for any light aircraft company. In fact, I’ve never heard any number even close to that. Ivo has long proven adept at maneuvering his company and it seems he hit the jackpot this time.
Some enthusiasts were grousing that Textron might never produce any Pipistrel models and who knows what the future holds. For now though, it was reported that Pipistrel will still operate its factories in Europe and Ivo will retain a 10% ownership share.
Call him the Elon Musk of aviation, perhaps. It was reportedly Textron’s interest in the Velis electric-propulsion version of Pipistrel that won their corporate heart. Congratulations to Ivo!
This article from Day 1 of Sun ‘n Fun revealed a new four-stroke engine resulting from a fascinating collaboration of two light aircraft companies — although a pairing I would not have predicted. Learn more about the engine from the earlier article.
At Sun ‘n Fun 2022 Air-Tech Inc’s Ken Borne fired the engine up for journalists and protective buyers yet I they have not yet flown their aircraft with the Aero engine.
I’ll be looking for news at Oshkosh about how well that engine performed and whether it could sweep through the thousands of Quicksilvers flying. Many owners have said they prefer a four stroke powerplant. When their current two-stroke engine needs maintenance, a significant number might switch to four stroke.
Owners like them because they are quieter, more fuel efficient, have longer maintenance cycles, and have a deeper sound many pilots like. In addition, some locations are clamping down on two-strokes that are perceived as “dirtier” or louder or less dependable.
Air-Tech, Inc., and Blackhawk Paramotor got together at last year’s Oshkosh to hatch this idea (they displayed immediately next to one another and started talking…). Now, perhaps we’ll see this collaboration take to the skies. If all goes well, I predict a strong interest from buyers.
TL Sport Aircraft’s Fleet
In a previous article, I wrote about the TL Sport Aircraft Stream aircraft. I’ll follow up with a report on the Sirius LSA, too, but these aircraft have fresh representation and new relationships.
The new U.S. importer of the TL Ultralight aircraft from the Czech Republic is TL Sport Aircraft, run by a capable Trey Murdaugh. You can see him in the earlier article demonstrating Stream. He has brought stability to one of the LSA sector’s most successful brands.
TL Ultralight is well known for their Sting after multiple generations of development. They also make the high wing Sirius, the tandem retractable Stream, and have introduced a Stream variation in side-by-side seating called Sparker.
The last two are retractable speedsters both well positioned for the changes coming in Mosaic.
One of the key elements to this story has TL Sport Aircraft appointing Aerosport as a dealer for their line. I flew both Stream and Sirius at the Illinois company’s DeLand, Florida operation called Aerosport South (video).
In fact, DeLand appears to be developing into a powerhouse of light, affordable aircraft with the AeroSport group plus another that is planning to represent multiple brands including Aero Adventure, Seamax, Montaer, BOT, Fusion, and possibly others. Collaborative efforts make for stronger companies that can better serve their clients with a choice of aircraft and service for all of them.
Vashon Ranger’s Secret
Finally, I’m going to tease you without telling you anything. I have been sworn to secrecy but Vashon, builder of the increasingly popular Ranger LSA is projecting a major new announcement by AirVenture.
At Sun ‘n Fun I did an interview with Vashon boss Scott Taylor. He didn’t mention the news in the video so you won’t learn it when that work is completed. However, Vashon’s news will likely be regarded as a significant announcement, especially coming out at the very time I believe FAA will draw back the curtain on Mosaic …meaning the agency may announce the NPRM; the final rule is still at least 18 months away.
Stay tuned here for more, and if you can make it, come see the news and feel the airshow thunder at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. It’s really starting to get interesting!